Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

March 25, 2014

Indians turn back Boyd

Montgomery County scores 3 in third, wins 4-2

Zack Klemme
The Independent

CANNONSBURG — Boyd County has looked a little sloppy in the early going, including in a 4-2 setback to visiting Montgomery County on Monday.

Brandon Ramsey isn’t too concerned yet, though. The Lions’ coach is hoping his team’s trip next week to Myrtle Beach, S.C., for a little sunshine and a lot of baseball will help his team get in the swing of things.

“We’re doing a lot of little small things, it seems like, right now that’s costing us runs and some stuff we need to clean up,” Ramsey said. “It’s early. We haven’t hit great so far this season, but hopefully that’ll turn around and we can get back in the win column.”

The Indians scored three runs in the third inning Monday and led from then on, defusing a Boyd County rally in the home half of the seventh inning.

Brock Damron led the Lions (2-4) offense with a 3-for-3 evening, scoring a run and driving in another. Ethan Hicks had an RBI single.

Will Wise was 3-for-4 with two runs scored for the Indians (2-2).

Both teams rapped eight base hits, but Montgomery County had four of them in one inning, the third, which allowed the Indians to put up a crooked number.

The big blow was Dustyn Stevens’ two-RBI double, which coach Jonathan Hackett said isn’t necessarily representative of Montgomery County’s offense.

“‘Small ball’ is the way we like to talk about it,” Hackett said. “We don’t have a bunch of guys that you’re gonna run up there and see them hit doubles and triples, so we gotta do the small things, and I thought we did a pretty good job of that tonight.”

Meanwhile, the Lions had the occasional rally but struggled to get runs across, stranding six runners.

“That seems to be the story the first six games so far,” Ramsey said. “We get guys on, but we just can’t get them home. We just gotta do a better job of hitting in situations and understanding what we need to do when we go to the plate when we have runners on, but that’s just something that’ll come with at-bats. We’re not overly worried about it right now, because I think it’ll all turn around.”

Nathan Brown was the winning pitcher of record, allowing three hits and no runs in four innings of work, with one strikeout and no walks.

Kyle West took the decision for the Lions, yielding three runs on four hits in three frames. He registered two punchouts and two free passes.

The Lions’ bullpen did well to keep Boyd County within striking distance.

The Lions’ Slone Alley came on to start the fourth inning already trailing 3-0. He was in further trouble quickly — Montgomery County loaded the bases with no outs on a single, an error and a bunt on which no one covered first base.

But Alley struck out the next two Indians and induced a groundout to avoid further damage, and Hicks’ two-out bloop single in the fifth scored Damron and cut Boyd County’s deficit to 3-1.

Wise singled, though, and took third and home on wild pitches by Matt Blakeley in the sixth inning.

Blakeley got out of another jam in the seventh, fanning Chaiten Tomlin looking to strand two Indians.

All told, the Lions got four innings of one-run, four-hit ball from their bullpen.

“We were able to keep it close. We were able to make pitches when we needed to,” Ramsey said. “Matt’s not overly experienced out there. This is his first year he’s really ever pitched, and Slone’s been pretty reliable for the last couple years, so we feel pretty comfortable about putting him out there.”

Boyd County then mounted its final charge. Jacob Cook fought a pitch off his hands to right for an opposite-field leadoff double, and Damron’s one-out single to center scored Cook, cutting Montgomery County’s lead to 4-2.

Jordan Smith followed with a seeing-eye single through the left side to get two runners on with one out, but Montgomery County reliever Dalton Lee struck out Hicks looking and got Jacob Barnwell to bounce into a forceout to end it.

The two teams had not met in at least the last 12 seasons, which is as far back as complete KHSAA website schedule records go. But cultivating a matchup with the Lions was no accident for Montgomery County, last year’s 40th District champion.

“Our goal is to play against those types of quality programs from each region and make it to where we might see some of these guys if we get to state,” Hackett said. “That’s the goal, and this was one of those that we thought was a good opportunity to see them later on.”

MONTGOMERY CO.    003    001    0    —    4    8    1   

BOYD CO.    000    010    1    —    2    8    3

Brown, Lee (5) and Blevins; West, Alley (4), Blakeley (6) and Barnwell. W — Brown. L — West. 2B — Du. Stevens (MC), Cook (BC).

ZACK KLEMME can be reached at zklemme@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2658.